Alan Dershowitz: Why a Cease Fire Will Not Last

November 21, 2012 1:52 pm 27 comments

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton in Israel yesterday. Photo: Screenshot.

A cease fire between Israel and Hamas may end the immediate exchange of rockets, but it is not likely to be of long duration.  That is because every time Hamas fires rockets into Israel, it creates a win-win-win situation for itself.

The first win is that it terrorizes Israeli civilians, killing some, wounding others and creating panic among millions of Israelis who fear being hit.  This show of strength enhances Hamas’s standing within much of the Muslim world.

The second win is that by firing these rockets from densely populated areas in Gaza City, rather than from the many open fields outside of the populated areas in the Gaza Strip, Hamas provokes Israel into targeting the rockets and the terrorists who fire them.  As soon as the terrorists fire the rockets, they run to special underground bunkers that are open only to the terrorists, thereby leaving civilians above ground and vulnerable to Israeli rockets.  This is a deliberate tactic employed by Hamas over many years and designed to bring about international condemnation of Israel for inadvertently killing Palestinian civilians.  Israel’s only other options would be to allow Hamas rockets to be fired unanswered into Israel, or to conduct a ground war which would result in even greater international condemnation.

The third win for Hamas is that every time it fires rockets into Israel and provokes Israel into returning fire, it weakens the Palestinian Authority—its arch enemy in the West Bank.  The Palestinian Authority has renounced violence, but it has no choice other than to support Hamas’s violence against Israel, which is popular among many Palestinians.  The end result is a strengthened Hamas, which is seen as doing something and a weakened Palestinian Authority, which is seen as doing nothing.

The proof that this win-win-win strategy is working for Hamas can be seen on television, in the newspapers, at the United Nations and among the chattering classes.  Virtually everyone acknowledges that Israel has the right to defend itself, but that Israeli military actions—particularly if they are tough enough to achieve a modicum of success—do more harm than good to Israel’s standing around the world.  That is precisely the reaction that Hamas has been counting on—and with repeated success.

They attack Israel, thus committing the double war crime of using Palestinian civilians as human shields and targeting Israeli civilians.  Yet it is Israel that is criticized for engaging in entirely lawful activities, such as conducting a military blockade of Gaza designed to prevent new rockets and rocket material from reaching Hamas terrorists, and targeting Hamas terrorist leaders and Hamas fighters who fire rockets at Israeli civilians.

So long as this dynamic continues, it will be in Hamas’s interest to do precisely what it did in 2008 and again now:  start a new battle by firing rockets at Israeli civilians from behind its Palestinian human shields, provoke Israel into responding, and calling on the international community to condemn Israel for killing its babies.

This “dead baby strategy” has been acknowledged by Hamas leaders, who refer to the victims as “martyrs” and proclaim that Palestinian children and women “have formed human shields…in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.”  This strategy always works with an international media that cannot resist showing pictures of the dead babies who are brought to them by Hamas leaders (even when, as in one case, the baby was killed a misfiring Hamas rocket.)

The real victims of this gruesome strategy are the Palestinian civilians who are cynically used as human shields.  Hamas leaders refer to them as martyrs, because they are being used to implement this win-win-win strategy.  There is growing evidence that at least some Gaza civilians are fed up with the Hamas strategy.  They complain that too few Hamas fighters are being killed and too many Palestinian civilians are dying.  They complain that Hamas has deliberately built underground bunkers only to protect its fighters but not its civilians.

Unfortunately, the Gaza Strip is not a democracy.  It is tyranny ruled by Hamas killers, who have no hesitation in murdering Palestinians who express disagreement with their strategy.  It is unlikely, therefore, that the views of the dissatisfied Palestinians in Gaza will have any impact on the Hamas strategy.

What we can expect, therefore, is a relatively short truce—Hamas calls it a “hudna”—that will last until Hamas decides it is time to invoke its strategy once again.  Israel will respond, as it has in the past.  In Israel this is called, “mowing the lawn”—cutting down Hamas periodically with no real expectation that the deadly grass will not continue to grow.

The only solution to this recurring problem is for the international community and the media, once and for all, to expose the Hamas strategy, to condemn it, and to deny Hamas the diplomatic and media victory it seeks to achieve by its double war crimes.

27 Comments

  • john carl hinkle

    Israel does not work with abbas and the fatah people on the west bank.. it prefers to talk about Hamas and not about neglected opportunities to build good will between palestinians and israelis… Israel will likely pay in the future for not empathizing with the people whose land they perhaps justifiably took more than60 years ago.
    The israelis talk about their resolve not to negotiate, what about their palestinian counterparts they are just as stubborn. Israelis expect to be supported by the united states while getting us into interminable conflict in the arab world. Lets get a peace a settlemt on the way before a population explosion of arabs makes the situation harder to solve.

  • I WARNED THE AMERICAN PUBLIC AS PRESIDENT OF RABBIS FOR ROMNEY THIS WOULD HAPPEN. 70% of jews voted for obama. rabbi dr. bernhard rosenberg

  • Jeremy Milgrom is not a rabbi in the true sense of the word. Oh, he may have a piece of paper that declares him to be a ‘rabbi’ but a rabbi is a teacher and Milgrom is no teacher – he is in short a deceiver. He preaches falsehoods about his own people and is a traitor to the truth.

    I read with great interest all the pro-Israel arguments and references to this UN resolution and that UN resolution and so on and how Israel is merely “mowing the lawn”. The problem is once the grass is mowed, only weeds sprout out of the ground in Gaza, thus choking out the regrowth of desired grass.

    But this discussion is less about Gaza and the human rights of a terrorist entity (Hamas), as defined by the US and other civilized governments, than it is a forum for those who have a greater interest in the ‘rights’ of the ‘wrong’ than the rights of the right. There is no excuse for terrorists therefore terrorists have no rights! Need I remind you about Bin Laden’s rights? And I ask you why would anyone have such antipathy toward Israel – especially a Jew?”

    The sad truth is that in this world, there are too many people who hate Jews and tragically are too many of our people who just hate being Jewish.

  • The real, “only solution to this recurring problem”, is not to negotiate with terrorist. Nor is it to make ceasefires with them that give them credibility and moral equivalence. Absolute and unconditional surrender IS the only solution. Israel has the means, they just need the will and the desire for victory. Then they will finally have peace.

  • The ceasefire may last because Hamas’s demands for an easing of the blockade may be met and easily verified by the flow of goods to a deprived populace, thus gaining them more support and stability.

    Hamas, it may be forgotten, was a creation of the Israeli government’s effort to place a bulwark against the Fatah in Gaza and was funded primarily by the Saudis with the acquiescence of Israel. It just, unfortunately, grew like Topsy because of the characteristic it shares with the Muslim brotherhood, scrupulous, religiously based honesty in the division of goodies that actually reach the populace, on contrast to the ethically challenged Fatah and other Middle Eastern regimes. Hamas finances itself through taxation of smuggling tunnels created by the Israeli blockade.

    Somehow, no one is talking about the Gaza blockade, except Hamas, but it has been a miserable failure for Israel on so many dimensions. It failed to keep out missiles and other weapons materiel, it’s taxation provides revenues for Hamas and it’s military from the huge flow of smuggled civilian goods which conveniently facilitates weapons smuggling. Not to mention the humanitarian implications for Israel that have come to light in the past two months. The continuation of the blockade is clearly a losing proposition for Israel and the regular IDF troops which remain exposed around Gaza to enforce it as reserves stand down.

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/demographic_duo/item/israeli_math_argues_for_an_end_to_gaza_blockade

  • The cease fire will not last because the people of Gaza live in an intolerable situation, and therefore they will not tolerate it.

    ‘What we can expect, therefore, is a relatively short truce—Hamas calls it a “hudna”—that will last until Hamas decides it is time to invoke its strategy once again. Israel will respond, as it has in the past. In Israel this is called, “mowing the lawn”—cutting down Hamas periodically with no real expectation that the deadly grass will not continue to grow.’

    Indeed, continue the blockade of Gaza, maintain the status quo, and periodically bomb the hell out of Hamas and the civilians in the area.

  • NOW THE SO CALLED CEASE FIRE IS HERE, ALREADY 12 ROCKETS HAVE BEEN FIRED FROM GAZA SINCE.

    THE MOOD IN ISRAEL AND THE WEST BANK IS GETTING UGLY.
    THE SITUATION IS WAITING TO ESCALATE FURTHER AND OUR INCOMPETENT LEADERSHIP IS FLAPPING ABOUT LIKE A
    HEADLESS CHICKEN.

    WE HAVE A GOOD ARMY AND IT IS THE ONLY THING WHICH
    CAN KEEP US FROM DISASTER.
    WE CAN NOT COUNT ON THE WEST AND WE CAN NOT TRUST
    OUR LEADERS.

  • In taking his cheap shot at Prof Dershowitz, Rabbi Milgrom writes that 80% of Gazans are refugees with the right of return. Within that group surely Rabbi Milgrom is aware that many are Hamas terrorists and sympathizers. Yet, Rabbi Milgrom actively solicits investment funds and other investors to boycott and divest themselves from Israeli businesses. Yet he cries crocodile tears for the Palestinian and Israeli underprivileged, as he seeks to cost them their jobs.The Rabbi strives to have terrorists return to Israel while supporting their rights over those of the Israeli underprivileged. And based on what? An unenforceable UN resolution 174 that does not even state that progeny are included. So Rabbi, how did you come up with 80%? The truth is Rabbi, your philosophy is so corrupt, supporting the hate and lies of Hamas aginst your fellow Jews. All in the name of the Palestinian and Israeli underprivileged? In your hypocrisy you have surely lost your way.

  • Much as I admire Prof. Dershowitz, his solution is so impractical as to be nearly a joke. Educate the international community and media to expose the Hamas strategy? You’ve got to be kidding. To deal with Hamas on a more realistic basis, the Israelis would need to get a lot more brutal insofar as civilian casualities are concerned, and they are simply too small a country to then withstand the opprobrium they would suffer from their “friends”. Perhaps if they were being supported by Russia, the way Assad is, they could do what they really need to do to deal with Hamas. In the meantime, they’ll need to just keep “mowing the grass”, until their enemies pull another stunt that is so inflammatory that they’ll have the excuse they need to take more stringent action, until their “friends” once again interfere to stop them. You know, if the U.S.and its allies had these attitudes during WWII, could we have ever won that war? Attitudes in this country about civilian casualities would really change quickly if we ourselves had to deal in serious way with a much more threatening and brutal enemy, as per WWII.

  • Unfortunately, Israel has once again been forced to bow to American pressure. Obama doesn’t care about Israel. In one fell swoop Hamas can claim victory, Morsi and Egypt are validated as major players and Netanyahu is damaged domesticly. Bill Clinton got Bibi out of office once and it looks like Obama is trying again.

  • The Israeli Gaza conundrum reflects a game theory approach where both sides are playing, and becoming ever more clever at it. All the while hating, yet needing the other side to be able to continue playing. Very professional, well funded, but removed from the reality on what happens to the captive ‘audience’ on the ground. What if one of the sides, just decided it didn’t want to play anymore? The game would stop. That’s what we need to think about. How to pull our heads out of the next move and play for keeps. War and the threat of death and destruction is not a game. The media and the world watch and plug in, but have little to lose. In fact media circulation increases during war, so the won’t or can’t stop. The bystanders protest at a distance, vocal, but most often out of harms way and removed from the hard facts on the ground.
    Israel is in a position to stop playing ‘the game’. How to do this needs to be discussed, not what the next gambit should be. The media wouldn’t matter in that then.

  • The cease fire will not last because killing Jews is foundational to Islam. Winston Churchill understood this ( “MEINKAMPF was the new KORAN”)..it is time for the rest of the ciivilized aka non-Muslim world to understand this too.

    • I couldn’t agree more with richard sherman’s comment. Without Jewish hatred there would be no Koran and no Islam.
      And to Rabbi Milgrom, I ask why are the Jews always the ones to be judged, especially by some of their own religious leaders, to be so lacking of compassion, especially in their battle to survive. By your judgement, it seems that being such a minority race means we must remain dhimmis in order to be allowed to survive and maybe be allowed to prosper. Where are the billions of Muslims being compassionate for their own kind,(or maybe they see the Palestinian-Arabs as not their own kind) and making a proper, historic homeland for them in what was clearly where their roots may be? Or what is truly preventing those Arabs from living in peace in Gaza? It certainly is NOT the Israelis. It is their leadership, whether Hamas or PLO. Before the early 1900′s there was no such people as a Palestinian People. The Palestinian myth has become truth during the last century and Arafat was the biggest mythsayer of all. As a Rabbi I suggest you learn your history and stop dividing the Jewish People against themselves.

  • Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom

    80% of the 1.7 million Gazans are refugees from the areas that Hamas was shelling and who have the right to return under UN resolution 194. This article would read completely differently if Prof. Dershowitz aimed for justice and truth and wasn’t once again representing a client with as much obvious guilt as O.J. Simpson. If he applied the Jewish values of compassion for the underprivileged instead of favoring self-pitying privileged, he could give the Palestinians access to world opinion which they tragically have shut off by their use of violence against the Israeli periphery which is itself underprivileged. In short, Prof. Dershowitz, you can do better than this!

    • Apparently, Rabbi Milgrom , you would be happier if The state of Israel had never come into being since you compare the Jewish State to O.J.Simpson, a rather invidious comparison. U.N. Resolution 194, passed as an attempt to end the war in 1948 and rejected by all Arab states, is and has been irrelevant. The resolution confers no rights as General Assembly resolutions have no force of law whatsoever. Alan Dershowitz aims for justice. You, sir, aim for the destruction of the Jewish State, which is exactly what would happen if the descendants of the original refugees, most of whom left their homes to allow the invading Arab armies to drive the Jews into the sea, were allowed to settle in Israel.

    • Rabbi Milgrom is one of the many who are quick to mention UN Resolution 194 without knowing what they’re talking about. Allow me to explain:

      1) Resolution 194 is a UN General Assembly resolution, i.e. it is purely declaratory and has no legal force whatsoever. Ergo, there is no “right of return”.
      2) It doesn’t mention anything about the same, fictional “right of return” for the “Palestinian” refugees, but simply says that the refugees (on both sides) will be allowed to return to their homes as soon as possible and as long as they are willing to live at peace with their neighbors, something that the Palestinians have clearly demonstrated they don’t want to do. Not suprisingly, they were not welcomed back.
      3) When the resolution was adopted, ALL the Arab countries voted against it! It takes therefore some chutzpah to come back 64 years and pretend that they voted in favor.
      4) According to the resolution, a special commission was to convene in Geneva shortly afterward to implement it and agree on the logistical details… and guess what… the Arab countries boycotted the meeting, killing the whole idea on the spot!

      Conclusion No 1: there is no “right of return” and never has been one, be it for the Palestinians or any other group of refugees. This is a pure invention that too many good but exceedingly naive people have endorsed without checking.

      Conclusion No 2: beware of what the Palestinians tell you. They routinely shamelessly lie and distort the facts, and you believe them at your own peril, ending up more often than not looking like a gullible fool if you take them at their word.

    • can someone,please email this artical to Rabbi David Milgrom who is carried away by ideas of justice,but only for one side of the conflict, thus lacks the blance and understading of reality.

      The Long-Term Implications of the Israel-Hamas Clash
      http://jcpa.org/article/the-long-term-implications-of-the-israel-hamas-clash/

    • Rabbi Milgrom is one of the many who are quick to mention UN Resolution 194 without knowing what they’re talking about. Allow me to explain:

      1) Resolution 194 is a UN General Assembly resolution, i.e. it is purely declaratory and has no legal force whatsoever. Ergo, there is no “right of return”.
      2) It doesn’t mention anything about the same, fictional “right of return” for the “Palestinian” refugees, but simply says that the refugees (on both sides) will be allowed to return to their homes as soon as possible and as long as they are willing to live at peace with their neighbors, something that the Palestinians have clearly demonstrated they don’t want to do. Not suprisingly, they were not welcomed back.
      3) When the resolution was adopted, ALL the Arab countries voted against it! It takes therefore some chutzpah to come back 64 years and pretend that they voted in favor.
      4) According to the resolution, a special commission was to convene in Geneva shortly afterward to implement it and agree on the logistical details… and guess what… the Arab countries boycotted the meeting, killing the whole idea on the spot!

      Conclusion: there is no “right of return” and never was one, be it for the Palestinians or any other group of refugees. This is a pure invention that too many good but exceedingly naive people have endorsed without double-checking what they’ve been told.

    • Rabbi you are a despicable liar.

    • Rabbi Milgrom, you can also do better than this. Israel exists according to the UN partition resolution from 1947. India and Pakistan have been separated and have accepted the partition. The Palestinian Authority has accepted the partition as well. It’s time that Israel haters like you should get off that tree as well.

    • Sergio HaDaR Tezza

      Mister Milgrom: that is absolute B.S., as we say in English!
      First of all, Resolution 194 WAS a NON BINDING UN RESOLUTION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, as much was the one claiming that “Zionism is a form of racism”. Not only: ALL the Arabs rejected it by voting against…
      THEN, most Gazans are Egyptians, Syrians and Saudis, as Hamas leaders THEMSELVES say very clearly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAfENxzv2mc
      That was even proven by the research conducted in the ’90s about a particular blood disorder existing ONLY in Gaza and in parts of Syria.
      Then, LEARN SOME! Start with the IV Geneva Convention, specifically the First Additional Protocol which in Art. 58-b calls a WAR CRIME “to place military objectives within or in the proximity of densely populated areas”.
      Your standing side-by-side with Israel enemies, so typical of Reform and so-called “Progressive Judaism” so-called “rabbis” is just SHAMEFUL.

    • Rabbi:

      Maybe you can explain to all of us how a people, the Palestinians, could choose a name for themselves and their country that cannot be written in their language? As I’m sure you don’t know, Arabic doesn’t have the letter “P”, so no Arab people could choose such a name. Maybe with this information you can figure out how artificial the Palestinians actually are. If so, you may also realize how nonsensical your ideas are.

  • I know the ceasefire is not the ideal solution. I am happy we didn’t send in the ground forces. We don’t want Gaza & our soldiers would have died there.

    • This is inane.The people who got out of the way in order to have the Jews slaughtered in 1948 have no right of return.The UN is the organization that spends most of its time condemning Israel.
      It is as if you endorse Mein Kampf’s racist assumptions.
      Mr. Dershowitz is taking the reasoned approach that Israel is being forced to do what no nation would find acceptible.If the equivalent of 1500 rockets fall on this country it would be a barrage of 80000 rockets
      enough to flatten 100,000 homes and kill tens of thousands of people.We would send in the marines,
      the seals and the special troops to wipe out the regime, like we did with the Taliban.
      The only reason it didn’t do that much damage in Israel, has to do with a higher power that this Rabbi apparently is unaware of.

    • Another solution would be to stop the blockade of Gaza.

      The continuation of the blockade is clearly a losing proposition for Israel and the regular IDF troops which remain exposed around Gaza to enforce it as reserves stand down.

      The ceasefire may last because Hamas’s demands for an easing of the blockade may be met and easily verified by the flow of goods to a deprived populace, thus gaining them more support and stability.

      The blockade has been a miserable failure for Israel on so many dimensions. It failed to keep out missiles and other weapons materiel, it’s taxation provides revenues for Hamas and it’s military from the huge flow of smuggled civilian goods which conveniently facilitates weapons smuggling. Not to mention the humanitarian implications for Israel that have come to light in the past two months.

      http://www.jewishjournal.com/demographic_duo/item/israeli_math_argues_for_an_end_to_gaza_blockade

  • re: “The only solution to this recurring problem is for the international community and the media, once and for all, to expose the Hamas strategy, to condemn it…”

    Your conclusion assumes that international condemnation has much effect. Does it? We could throw a dart at a world map and hit a country (or people) that has acted in their own interests rather than world opinion.

    And do you expect the smugglers in the rocket supply chain (Iran-Sudan-Egypt) to be affected by world opinion?

    It comes down to hatikva — hope. Hamas hasn’t given much of it to the residents of Gaza. And if the Israeli attitude towards Gaza is “mowing the lawn”, well, that certainly takes the focus for the blame away from Hamas’s failures.

  • AGREED HEAR HEAR Well said Alan Dershowitz. Cogently and clearly articulated truth people do not like to hear

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